Midnight Prayers

Dollar Store Novels for Free

Month: June, 2013

Day 117: Summer’s For Music – Jameson’s McGregor’s “When Death Came Calling”

Last year, both Bob Dylan and the Avett Brothers came out with albums that dealt directly with death.  The heavy thematic weight was more chain than anchor for both of them, though, and their songs often plummeted into the abyss without an escape plan.  In one song, Jameson McGregor confidently squares off against the same imposing final destination that made two folk heavyweights falter and somehow makes common dread feel dynamic.  His death sounds way better than your death.  Listen below:


Day 116: Summer’s For Music – Jesper Munk’s For In My Way It Lies

Roddy Doyle might just love Jesper Munk. Not his music, necessarily, but the very idea of him as an artist. Munk’s debut, titled somewhat forebodingly For In My Way It Lies, finds itself trying to settle the unfamiliar territory of German Blues, a genre of music that sounds like a throwaway Dwight Schrute joke. In other words, Munk is Germany’s version of The Commitments.

In Roddy Doyle’s 1987 novel The Commitments, the then budding Irish author humorously chronicles a group of lower-class Dubliners’ attempt to make it big as a soul band. The joke, or at least what on the surface is a joke, is that the “chaps” get this idea to play soul by watching a drunken singer warble into a microphone at a wedding, drawing brilliant if unsubtle comparison between lower class Irish culture and lower class black American culture. There was a level of repressed pain in 60s soul music that both groups, though never actually interacting, connected with on a powerfully deep level. Doyle used music to finally crack open the Irish consciousness for the world to see.

On For In My Way It Lies, Munk is less interested in drawing on influences to tell his own story than he is in simply paying tribute. There’s nothing wrong with giving a nod to B.B. King, but there’s also nothing particularly imaginative about it. Lies is more an introduction to blues than anything else, a cursory education for those unfamiliar with the genre. You get the feeling that, with a young, marketable blonde dude playing these moody riffs, this might be the first time a lot of Germans will be interacting with blues as a popular genre. If this is the case, he’s definitely not the worst tour guide.

By simply following the blueprint, Munk could end up being the link between German pop culture and John Lee Hooker, but it’s probably more likely that he’ll steer his countrymen towards The Black Keys. His scope is too large to make For In My Way It Lies the nostalgia machine it clearly aims to be. Though clearly recognizing the cathartic aspects of blues arrangements, there’s also a part of Munk that yearns to morph those pristine sounds into something that sells, something like The Red Hot Chili Peppers, something that causes ripples in the lake. In the end, he sounds stuck somewhere in the middle, but songs like “Blood or Redwine”, his most Chili Peppers emulation that borders on Pearl Jam grogginess, ultimately upstage the reserved, unassuming homages like the meticulously paved over “Seventh Street”. For now, Munk should stick to being a tribute act.

Day 115: Don’t Leave It Behind, Not Yet

Earlier this year, around the beginning of Spring, I sat in a professor’s oddly lit and agressively humid office, anxiously pitching an independent term paper topic I was pretty sure would get shot down.  The topic, at that point, read simply, “Dave Chappelle and the Post Hip-Hop Era”.  To be honest, I hadn’t prepared well for the meeting, a mistake attributed to the small chance I’d given the green light, but ended up making the sale based on my pedestrian depth of knowledge of the comedian’s widely overlooked (critically, at least) television endeavor Chappelle’s Show.  If I wanted to take the risk, my professor told me, then he’d be happy to let me.

“The only thing I’d ask,” he continued, “is this going to be exclusively about racism?”

I took his question with slight offense, responding almost a little too harshly “Chappelle’s Show is about racism, so, yeah, my paper is going to about racism.”

“I’d just be careful,” he continued, not phased by the tone of my answer, his pale white gut poking out from beneath his shirt and spilling under the desk as he sat upright, “racism isn’t the same type of subject it was before.  We’re past the point where racism really needs to be discussed in art.  That’s all for the historical people now.  We’ve moved on.”  It was all pride, that ugly, white pride, each word, and suddenly I was sick.

I never really processed this interaction, not completely anyway, until I sat down today to write something about the Supreme Court’s recent decisions.  As I’m sure you know, as I hope everyone knows, the Supreme Court has been rolling out decisions on key social issue cases over the past few days, most recently striking down pretty much every law on state books discriminating against same-sex couples.  It was a beautiful example of the system working and certainly something worth celebrating.

But then there’s the other huge decision, the one that repealed key sections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  The action was taken, it seems, with what could be loosely classified as “good intentions”.  Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.”  This argument, if taken logically, is declaring the racial context of unequal voting to be dead, apparently positing, like my professor did on that horrible Jersey spring day, that we’ve simply moved on.  It’s a decision that lacks humility, that is unwilling to admit to the problems still devouring our country’s soul, that doesn’t recognize the need for these laws in the first place, that ignores our original sin.

Even writing this, I have that same sick feeling, because I wish this decision were correct.  I do.  I wish that Justice Roberts’s argument that we’ve changed enough to repeal the safeguards against racist poll skewing were actually the case.  I wish that we no longer needed the government to tell us that we’re equal.  I wish we just kind of, you know, knew it.

But we don’t know it, not yet anyway, because we still need the government to tell us that two citizens can legally get married.  We still need them to remind us women should be paid the equivalent of what their male counterpart takes home.  It is we the people who still divide and discriminate, so the government maintains its role.  It would be nice if we could take anti-discrimination laws off the books because they had become obsolete, because we no longer needed them as a reminder, because we knew, in our bones, in our souls, in the depths of us, that we really were created equal.

It’d be nice if we could just, you know, leave all these laws behind.  But not today, not yet.

Day 114: Summer’s For Music – Frank Ocean’s “Bad Religion”

A sad song on a good day.  Leave the meter running…..

Day 113: Summer’s For Music – The Front Bottoms’s “Talon of the Hawk”

Going into their first label-produced album, Jersey natives The Front Bottoms sat comfortably in the naïve space of indefinable indie-rock.  Their most accomplished work before being signed by Bar/None records, the self-released and tremendously titled My Grandma vs. Pneumonia, was an early draft of a Tarantino movie, tearing through genres carelessly from song to song, hoping it became coherent in the end.  It’s actually not a bad album, and there are some great songs on it (particularly the opener “Flying Model Rockets), but it does have tremendous room for growth.

Two albums later, The Front Bottoms, a band named after the British slang term for a female sexual organ, are still growing but are exhibiting very little pains with the process.  Talon of the Hawk, the bands’ most recent record, sharpens their sense of self, deciding to be a little more definable by committing fully to the indie-punk-folk sound they’d experimented with at times on their self-titled label debut.   It takes some of the schizophrenic changes of pace out of the equation, leaving the vertigo-inducing songs like “Father” or “The Beers” that made their last record incessantly dynamic behind in an attempt to build coherency.

Even with this commitment to logically moving songs, The Front Bottoms have held off on diluting their stimulating and endlessly entertaining lyricist Brian Sella.  As with everything that’s come before, Sella is the main attraction on Talon of the Hawk.  If The Front Bottoms was organized as a jet-stream of consciousness for the snarky frontman to let loose over, then Talon is a series of long-ish drunk texts that you get the feeling Sella might regret sending in a year or two.  As a lyricist, he has the same punk-rock honesty complex as Titus Andronicus’s Patrick Stickles, but there’s more hope and tenderness here than on any of Stickles’s gnarly opuses.  These are love songs, not songs about love, and Sella is cool with that label, even trying to reclaim it for the awkward, vaguely creepy kid sitting alone at a party.

And it’s all so personal that these songs can actually do some damage.  On “Swear to God the Devil Made Me Do It”, as Sella tries to implode a masculinity complex through literal complications (“I know CPR/I know mouth to mouth… Baby I can spit this game all day) and then dreams of creating life-changing art, he goes back on his own progress, mourning, “But I am full of shit/I’m a plagiarist/As a liar, I’m a 10”.  It all feels in the moment, and you can actually follow his thought patterns here.  He sells the performance in a way that few other singers can.  This could be a Fiona Apple record.

Then there’s “Twin Sized Mattress”, the one truly transcendent song on this album, a tour-de-force of the formidable songwriter Brian Sella can be.  When he sings, “When the floodwater comes it ain’t gonna be clear/It’s gonna look like mud/But I will help you swim/I will help you swim/I’m gonna help you swim”, there’s no mistaking the earnest heart this dude has.  This is what is so magnetizing about The Front Bottoms: their ability to distill emotional moments that are usually lost to abstraction in a lesser band’s hands.  With all that being said, there also hasn’t been a more beautiful song put to record this year.

Day 112: Yard Sales

I’ve always had a strange fascination with yard sales.  I’m not sure why, but every time I’ve passed one, as a kid or even more recently as, well, pretty much a kid, only now with better fitting, first generation clothes, I get this suspicion that there’s something being sold just for me, some object that couldn’t find a place in these people’s lives but would have an important role in mine.  I imagine them selling the ammo missing from my inherited Nerf bow, a computer with unlimited Chips Challenges and SkiFree levels installed on it, or maybe even a Sega Dreamcast controller that actually makes sense.

I think it was this supernatural belief in yard sales that made me so apprehensive about running one for my parents last weekend.  When they came to me with the idea, it was more of a, “Well since you’re living at home this summer and since getting up at 7 to set everything up will keep you from being hungover all Saturday, you’re doing this” kind of suggestion.  They’ve been working for months now getting the house ready for some long overdue renovations (our side door is literally held together by duct tape and a paper bag from SuperFresh) and the clearing of space has come with some tough decisions, at least for my dad.

See, my dad takes to inanimate objects like some people might take to a stray puppy they’ve taken in for the night, only with him the rule isn’t, “Don’t name it or you’ll get attached”, it’s, “Don’t even let it in the door or it’ll never leave”.  Once my dad’s smuggled an object inside, it’s there to stay.  Take his collection of driftwood for example, which he’s collected, probably illegally, from a handful of National Parks he’s visited in his life (he’s been to more parks than he has driftwood from, but that’s because he forgets pretty often that he collects driftwood as a hobby), even as it rots in our living room, right next to the fireplace, I am 100% sure that if the house were to burn down, it would all miraculously survive.  My dad’s possessions are like horror movie villains, there’s no killing them, and this is why a yard sale was such a tough task for him to take on: it meant selling off something immortal.

Even as we began to set up tables for the sale, I could sense his eyes wandering around the objects I’d be selling, picking which ones he would try to save as the day went on.  He even picked up an old gumball machine and asked, “Wait, we’re selling this,” as if it hid a piece of his soul amid the stale candy inside.  I’d later tweet, only half jokingly, “This day is less me vs. customers than it is my dad vs. memories.”

[tweet https://twitter.com/GONEbyNoon/status/348466028998688768]

Here’s the thing about yard sales, something I learned fairly quickly after settling into my lawn chair with a box of Oh’s cereal and a ludicrously sized cup of apple juice: everyone who intentionally stops by a yard sale within a half hour of its starting time is a dick.  I don’t mean that they are terrible people, and I certainly don’t mean they’re literally fleshy, sentient phalluses that roamed my lawn trying to find a used copy of The Great Gatsby.  Let me explain.  My first four patrons were pros, looking for jewelry, “smoking materials”*, jewelry, and World War II memorabilia, respectively.  How did I know they were pros?  Well, for starters, it was a Saturday and they arrived in the time window of 8-8:15 am, and since the only publicity I had given this sale was an ad posted on Craigslist that morning, I was pretty sure they’d been constantly refreshing the Garage Sale section on the site until mine came up.  The other reason I knew that they were pros was because one of them admitted it to me, saying she buys people’s old jewelry and turns a huge profit.  Another gave me a panphlet so that we could “stay in contact in case I came across and World War II memorabilia lying around my house.”  I told him that I heard a rumor about the house across the street being the place where FDR was conceived.  He was not amused.

For those wondering at this point in the story what the Craigslist ad said, it read,

There is a Garage Sale going on at 2116 Belvedere Ave. We have all kinds of stuff that you can purchase at whatever price you offer. Full bedroom set featuring a canopy bed, an air hockey table that you can spill beer on and it’ll still function (probably), basketballs, soccer balls, footballs (no baseballs, sorry), a cookie monster cookie jar that will scare all your kids away from eating cookies ever again, Dicks Sporting Goods water bottles to give to your bro as a joke, an AM/FM radio that can probably be made into a time machine if you put the effort in, a lamp, some skis our neighbors gave us that have never been used but totally made us look really interesting for a while there, a stuffed polar bear, an enormous Christmas wineglass you can give to your alcoholic aunt (either as a joke or as a symbol of your appreciation for her struggle), speakers my dad keeps trying to take back in the house, and a green stapler. We also have other items for sale, so stop by and check out our stuff.

The ad seemed like an important part of this story as a whole, so I wanted to keep you in the loop.  Back to the four patrons being dicks.

All of them were pleasant on the outside, these Craigslist vultures, and it wasn’t until after all of them had left that I realized why they’d made me so uncomfortable.  It has something to do with how I feel about antiquing in general.  A strange practice superficially, I find it even stranger the more I think about it.  Why do we put so much stock into objects simply because they’ve been around forever?  Why does something that faded into the decorative scenery of someone else’s home suddenly become worth money when it’s removed?  Why do we care about it so much more out of context, in a show room, being dissected by a slow-talking, gray-bearded white guy through a magnifying glass?  It all has to do with the exploitation of memories.

I should have prefaced all this by saying I have never antiqued, been to an antique show, or actually listened when anyone has talked to me about antiquing.  What I’m saying is just an impression I got from the very idea behind this practice of yard sale antiquing, which seems inescapably linked to memory.  When people look into purchasing old objects, such as chairs, mirrors, or even lightly used murder weapons, one of the keys to assessing whether or not they will end up investing in it is the context in which it first existed, its initial role.  They ask how it was used, who used it, and when.  Antique people (“antiquers” is apparently not a word acceptable within Microsoft Word’s high standards, which is cool because “antique people” is a lot more hilarious) need this information so that when they go to re-sell it, they can include the memories attached to the object as part of the sales pitch.  These items are sold to people who want to feel connected to memories they don’t have, to events that they weren’t around for.  The people buying this stuff from the antique people are also buying the ghosts that come with it.  They need those too.  We constantly move on and forget, so we buy physical memories, ones that someone else has tried to forget.  It’s very strange.

We’re obsessed with history, humans are, which is a true statement even if you’ve never particularly cared for Ken Burns.  Our cities are shaped by it.  We build around historical landmarks so that we can feel their presence, let their memories permeate our experience, making a nearly tangible timeline.  Our attachment to history gives us a wider scope, dwarfs our arrogance, and reminds us where we’ve come from and what we should be heading towards.  It’s why Independence Hall was never swallowed by the advancing steel sea and people still line up to go to the top of the Empire State Building.  There’s a connection we feel, almost subconsciously, to everything that’s come before us.

So, like villains in a Charlie Kaufman movie, yard sale antique people are exploiting a relationship to objects we don’t even realize we have.  They buy up these memory-hoarding items to pawn them off on people who don’t fully understand why they want them.  Antique people are selling us something we can get for free, or with a small donation, because they make us think we need them, make us want to be the only ones who can experience them.  They pervert history and make it into something profitable, which is exactly why I called them dicks before.  They profit on something that shouldn’t be profitable.  They’re worse than beach-tag salesmen.

Now I’m not calling just anyone who shops at a yard sale a dick, because I met some genuinely great people while working on Saturday.  It’s really just these antique people that got to me (though I did have a theory going for most of the day that the only other types of people who shop at yard sales are moms and pedophiles.  When a thirty year old woman with no kids (I asked) bought our old wicker table,  I had to forgive myself, and I think you will too, for not selling a set of my sister’s old beads to an elderly gentleman who came by earlier and told me he was looking for stuff “to give to some kids”.  At that point, I still believed in the theory too much to aid a pedophile.)

As the crowds wore down, there was one more patron I had to deal with before I could close up and return to my dad his unsold memories.  She looked over an obviously fake framed painting and asked if it was an original.  “I painted it, actually,” I told her.

“Not the best,” she shrugged out.  Even as I flipped her off when she wasn’t looking, I couldn’t actually be mad; I was just relieved to hear some honesty.

I also live tweeted this event.  The highlights are below.

[tweet https://twitter.com/GONEbyNoon/status/348414461180268544] [tweet https://twitter.com/GONEbyNoon/status/348414808326025216] [tweet https://twitter.com/GONEbyNoon/status/348416075907608576] [tweet https://twitter.com/GONEbyNoon/status/348417495360761858] [tweet https://twitter.com/GONEbyNoon/status/348427004686766080] [tweet https://twitter.com/GONEbyNoon/status/348441526424199169] [tweet https://twitter.com/GONEbyNoon/status/348442161706053632] [tweet https://twitter.com/GONEbyNoon/status/348446456144871425] [tweet https://twitter.com/GONEbyNoon/status/348455491443228672] [tweet https://twitter.com/GONEbyNoon/status/348460309196963840] [tweet https://twitter.com/GONEbyNoon/status/348465553452699648] [tweet https://twitter.com/GONEbyNoon/status/348467247251075072] [tweet https://twitter.com/GONEbyNoon/status/348467988694986752] [tweet https://twitter.com/GONEbyNoon/status/348469532064636928] [tweet https://twitter.com/GONEbyNoon/status/348476214589136896] [tweet https://twitter.com/GONEbyNoon/status/348477767706353664] [tweet https://twitter.com/GONEbyNoon/status/348486017524838400] [tweet https://twitter.com/GONEbyNoon/status/348489111725813760] [tweet https://twitter.com/GONEbyNoon/status/348494146287312897]


*On second thought, this guy could’ve just been looking to get high… or he was undercover trying to bust up my yard sale.  So he was probably a dick too, but for a different reason.

Day 111: Summer’s For Music – Frank Ocean’s “White”

Lost among the deluge of heavy bass smotherings and casual system-shocking nonsense that clog up an Odd Future Mixtape, Frank Ocean’s “White” is one pristine beam of light shining from the abyss.  Released over a year ago and before his breakout channelORANGE, it’s also his Stevie Wonder moment.  People fall in love to lesser songs than this.  Listen below:

Day 110: Is The Newsroom Worth Fixing?

There’s a sequence in the first season of HBO’s critically polarizing Aaron Sorkin drama The Newsroom that explodes from its surroundings.  As Coldplay’s “Fix You” begins to swell in the background, reports begin flooding into the fictional ACN newsroom that Senator Gabrielle Giffords has been shot.  Even as a date meant to contextualize the events scrolls across the bottom of the screen, you pretty much know everything that’s coming.  And if you knew Sorkin before this, and are aware of his tendency towards naming episodes after lyrics from the songs eventually featured in them (this one is called “I Will Try to Fix You”), then you probably knew an emotional finale would be centered around that Coldplay song.  Even if you knew all of these things going in, you’re still not fully prepared for what’s coming.

This is what Sorkin does best.  He gives you recognizable stakes, something that you’re already comfortable with, and then pulls out a new or unrecognized emotional response.  You knew how the Facebook story ended, but all the wounds still felt fresh in The Social Network.  You also knew about the Oakland Athletics’ record-smashing win streak, but those moments of silent despair when it seemed like they wouldn’t get there still felt genuinely tense.  Some of this could, and should, be attributed to the direction of those films, but there’s no denying that the common denominator is the guy known for his Rice Krispy dialogue (Snap, Crackle, and Pop).

The issues with The Newsroom have all been clearly delineated (I’ve even called it, at a lesser moment, a sort-of “modern day fairy-tale”).  The most problematic of these being, of course, that a show about a group of news-people trying to change the way cable news is done has very little room to develop because all of us watching know that nothing has actually changed.  This means that Sorkin can dramatically editorialize all he wants, but, by making the decision to set the show in our reality, unlike his alternate reality dramedy Sports Night, there’s no actual progress to be had.  At best, The Newsroom can be a template; at worst, it can sound like a ranting backseat driver who only speaks up after you’ve crashed.

Even these problems might have been forgiven if the original plotlines had any real weight.  Sorkin has never been particularly lauded for writing strong female characters, but here every woman in the cast is sacrificed in the name of comedy.  One confuses Georgia the state with Georgia the country while another accidentally sends an improper e-mail disclosing her romantic history to the entire staff.  Even the strongest female character on the show, an economic reporter played by Olivia Munn, is given an entire episode where all she does is worry about the size of her backside.  These aren’t characters, they’re one-liners, jokes delivered by a hack comic in a dimly lit basement.  And all this is only a side dish compared to the main course of faulty plotlines, the romantic comedy of it all.  Outside of the control room, this show is an utter mess, but it can be fixed.

Recently, I’ve been watching old episodes of The West Wing, and find myself floored by the show’s complete refusal to fall into any serializing tropes, taking itself far to seriously to ever enter the same room with the word “sitcom”.  The high opinion its writers (Sorkin especially) clearly had of themselves can be overbearing, especially when they’re taking clear aim at specific, played-out targets, but it also brings a certain emotional gravity to the show, one that is as subtle as it is potent.  There is a terrific episode with a particularly Sorkin-y running joke that has the President of the United States, played by Martin Sheen, in need of a good, but not too good, pen.  He complains for the entire episode about the lack of solid pens in his office until his assistant tells him that it was his secretary, a woman with the similarly Sorkin-y name Mrs. Laningham who had recently passed away, that put those pens in his coat pocket every morning.  Martin Sheen’s reaction to this, a quick, hurting glance up, removing him completely from the Oval Office, form any of the familiar political stakes, is one of the most painful things you’ll ever see on television.  It connects us with him, makes you feel for him, want him to heal, and then it moves on.

It’s moments like this that can save The Newsroom, moments like that sequence in “I Will Try to Fix You”, where all your gripes with the show, all the flaws, all the things it does so poorly just sort of evaporate because the whole sequence is mesmerizing and you’re expending all your energy pretending not to cry.  It’s a formidable eight minutes; a towering emotional section of an uneven show that reminds you exactly what Aaron Sorkin is capable of doing.  It soars, it really does, and there’s a kind of earnestness to it that has all but been banished from the marquee networks.  It’s something we could use more of in a cable landscape dominated by Walter Whites and Don Drapers.  It’s supremely hopeful in a way that TV isn’t supposed to be anymore.  These are emotions worth reaching into our recent past for, worth tugging at our mistakes to find.  If Sorkin wants us to continue to listen to his weekly editorials, which start up again on July 14th, then it’s about time he makes us care about the people reading them.

Day 109: Summer’s For Music – Bad Cash Quartet’s “Dirty Days”

It’s an old song, not a great song, but so shamelessly Sex Pistols-y that any and all transgressions can be forgiven.  It’s also on the album from which this blog stole its name, so there’s that.  “Dirty Days” boasts a flawless hook and lines like, “We don’t care about tomorrow” and “I only breathe because I can”.  It might just be punk enough to quell Patrick Stickles’s twitter rants for three minutes. Let this peel the paint from the walls at whatever bullshit you’re getting into tonight.  Listen below:

p.s. Holy shit there’s a music video!! Thank you, internet.

Day 108: Just A Kid From Akron – On Lebron, The Narrative, and Superheroes

So there’s the narrative.  It’s been there since high school, something we created, magazine covers created, sportswriters created, you created, I created.  It’s what put him in that six ring-sized shadow and told him he had to grow into it, match it, eventually dwarf it.  It’s what he broke when he made the Decision, and its why we, everyone north of the beach, hurt so much when that huge, unflinching mistake aired.  He betrayed the narrative, botched the origin story, cowered from the struggle.  He wasn’t a superhero, so we tried the only other narrative we knew: the Villain.

And he played it well, I’ll give you that, he played this new role well for a while.  When he was handed a microphone and then promised the world an Empire, promised utter dominance, we all had reason to shudder.  This wasn’t what we had asked him for, this wasn’t what the Sports Illustrated covers were supposed to become.  We wanted The College Dropout, but he kept playing Graduation.  We assumed an innocence he never had, an understanding of the arc, a drive to be the best ever, to elevate others, rather than deciding to win here and now.  We assumed Lebron wanted the story we’d already written.

But then he lost, somehow tripped up inches from the throne, from his dynasty, as if we had found the justice we’d been seeking, given the story we wanted, as if he were just another villain.  It was easy then to diminish his game, to search for where everything went wrong and how we could have let it happen, to cast him out of the royal court.  We kept trying to find it, the narrative, so we decided it couldn’t be that simple.  We threw out the good vs. evil paradigm and imagined that there could be a third option, a noble pariah, a villain worth rooting for, someone we could grin confidently alongside.  And we finally realized that he wasn’t ever going to be a superhero.  He was too transparent for that, too upfront with his feelings, too vulnerable, too human.  So it was us who botched the narrative, not him, because he had always only been just a hero.

So maybe there shouldn’t be a narrative, not yet anyway, because the constant contextualization of events robs us of the actual achievements, removes us from the moment and into some far off, imagined ideal.  Then his absurd stat lines begin to get marred by footnotes and history haunts our perspectives, clouds our appreciation.  We mistake his joy for arrogance, boyish smiles for insurmountable ego.  He doesn’t wear 23 anymore.  He won’t be taking his talents anywhere else for a little while.  It’s time we let him play it out, let the narrative write itself, let Lebron decide, for once, what the story will be.